Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Contract With God and Ranma ½

Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death. Today: reviews of A Contract With God (Baronet, 1978) and Ranma ½ vol. 1(Viz, 2003).

It isn't the first graphic novel, nor is it really even a novel - it's a collection of four short stories. I don't know nearly enough about the late, great Will Eisner, but figured I should know more, so I hinted that something from him would make a good Father's Day present. It made a great Father's Day present. Set in and around tenement housing in the Bronx in the 1930s, these are remarkably well-told stories of struggle and unfairness. The first story's certainly the best, concerning an immigrant's plan to become important enough to force the Lord into a new contract after he feels that He broke their initial one. It's a very different and very moving experience, and recommended for older readers.

With teeth clenched, I opened the first of three dozen editions of Ranma ½, a series that Rumiko Takahashi drew for Shonen Sunday weekly from 1987-96. I remember thinking this was kind of cute for about a month in high school, and after that, its astronomical popularity among people younger and louder, so very much louder than me, made it an unwelcome prospect. But as readers of this blog know, I've spent the last couple of years finding there's a hell of a lot more to like about Ms. Takahashi than I ever knew, and so, twenty years later, I gave this another try...

And I really liked it. This was funny as hell, a completely goofy, straight-faced take on pretentious martial arts melodrama, stuck in a high school with a cast of about ten of what will surely grow to about a hundred nutball characters. I don't know that I like it enough to get on board for all three dozen editions, but I can certainly see myself picking up a few more of these when the sales are good. There's some innocuous nudity included for comedy, and if you can handle that without freaking out, then it's recommended for all readers.

(Originally posted July 02, 2008 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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